The current season of the hit television show "Dexter," about a serial killer who kills only bad people, is the weakest of the seven seasons that have been aired so far. And it's no wonder: This season, Dexter began to doubt his burning desire to kill, leading to tedious psychological uncertainty. The viewers (and the critics) voted with their feet. Keep murdering or shut up, some of them said.
Shows like "Dexter" and "Natural Born Killers" or the 1971 film "A Clockwork Orange" are not what created the basis for the murderous madness of Adam Lanza, who coldheartedly gunned down his own mother and then 26 children and adults at an elementary school in Connecticut on Friday. Films and television shows are not created in a vacuum. They arise from an apathetic and technological society that has turned murderers into cultural heroes.
The new-old discourse on limiting gun sales in the U.S., the world's most democratic country, will turn into nothing but fruitless chatter once the first bureaucratic obstacle arises. For decades, American gun proponents have run a strong lobbying effort, based on the traditional idea of self-defense of life and property. Tradition, of course, is a supreme American value. The discussion about how to stop the bloodshed in America will need to be held not only in law schools, but also in humanities and social sciences departments.
In the name of free speech, America has allowed a murder legitimation industry to flourish, including t-shirts that honor Ted Kaczynski, the "Unabomber" who conducted a nearly two-decade-long bombing campaign before being arrested in 1995; and fan forums for James Holmes, the "Joker" who killed 12 people at a "Batman" premiere in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado in July. This has been accompanied by generations of copycats and imitators who see murder as a legitimate means to achieve social recognition. This is particularly evident in suburbs in flyover states, but is also connected to the bourgeois boredom in wealthy locales in states like Connecticut.
In recent days, the media has endlessly repeated one question: Why? This question, however, is not relevant. For a murder star, there are no questions of "why" and "how." There are no questions and no answers. The Kafkaesque idea of "murder for the sake of murder" is not decipherable. In the Western world, evil is very popular, sometimes in the name of art, and the U.S. is an example of it going out of control.
The path to real cultural change is paved with good intentions. In America, such a process would be painful, complicated and perhaps impossible. America would have to eliminate the star status of murderers and build a democratic society that also knows how to control itself.